Warren unveils plan to address substandard military housing

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Harris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign 2020 Dems put spotlight on disabilities issues MORE (D-Mass.) on Friday unveiled a plan to address widespread issues in military housing run by private contractors, underscoring her efforts to promote new ideas and policies in her campaign for the White House.

Warren, who has been notable in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination in outlining policy goals, discussed the plan in a Medium post shared by her campaign press office.

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It was also unveiled as a Senate bill co-sponsored by three fellow members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichCollins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' Senate panel approves Interior nominee over objections from Democrats Congress readies for battle over nuclear policy MORE (D-N.M.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth Gillibrand2020 Dems put spotlight on disabilities issues Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — CBO officials testify on pros and cons of 'Medicare for All' | Booker vows to form White House office on abortion rights | Measles outbreak spreads with cases now in half the country Lee, Sanders introduce bill to tax Wall Street transactions MORE (D-N.Y.), who is also running for president.

“Today I’m rolling out a plan to improve our military housing, protect families from abuse, and hold private developers accountable for the promises they make to those who serve our country,” Warren wrote in the post.

“The way I see it, this is not complicated. It’s not even a close call. No matter where they are stationed, the very least we owe our military personnel is a safe, affordable place to live.”

A companion bill in the House is being sponsored by Rep. Deb HaalandDebra HaalandOvernight Energy: Dems press Interior chief to embrace climate action | Lawmakers at odds on how to regulate chemicals in water | Warren releases climate plan for military Warren releases plan to tackle climate change threats to military House Dem's bill would require ride-hailing companies to cover drivers' Social Security costs MORE (D-N.M.).

A 2018 Reuters investigation followed by a series of congressional hearings have unveiled deplorable living conditions in military housing, including black mold, rodent infestations and collapsing ceilings.

The issue has prompted bipartisan outrage, with lawmakers vowing to address it in this year’s annual defense policy bill.

The Pentagon has also proposed some solutions, including a tenant bill of rights that would allow tenants to withhold rent and move at no cost if repairs aren’t made.

Warren’s plan, too, includes a tenant bill of rights.

In addition, the bill would mandate regular and unannounced inspections of the housing by independent, certified inspectors.

The plan would also establish a resident survey, public database of complaints and an annual report on housing conditions.

The Pentagon would also have to publish the details of housing contracts in the Federal Register and require that each landlord annually submit to the Pentagon financial statements that would then be published publicly.

It would also mandate that leases be standardized across the Defense Department and would require the Defense secretary to establish formal written guidance for entering into and renewing contracts, including the ability to withhold payment or rescind a contract if a housing provider breaches the terms.

The bill would also cover medical costs of anyone with health issues caused by the unsafe housing conditions. 

“All three of my brothers served, so I know the responsibility we have to our service members, veterans, and their families,” Warren wrote in her post. “Failing to provide adequate housing impacts morale and negatively affects retention and readiness. Most importantly, it’s a breach of trust owed to those that volunteer to defend our country.”